Preventing Backover Accidents

Though drivers spend most of their time behind the wheel going forward, 25 to 30 percent of all motor vehicle accidents occur in reverse. While many of these low-speed accidents are fender benders that result only in minor property damage, if a backing vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the results can be tragic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics, backing accidents cause approximately 18,000 injuries and 300 deaths each year. The elderly and young children are most likely to be killed in a backover accident, with 44 percent of backover fatalities occurring in children under 5, and 33 percent occurring in adults aged 70 and older. reporting that backover accidents send 48 children to the emergency room and kill 2 children each week. In 2008, Congress passed the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act to require stronger automobile manufacturing standards that would protect people from backover accidents by expanding the field of vision, reducing the blind zone, and requiring rearview cameras on motor vehicles. Unfortunately, the deadline for creating and enforcing new standards has been repeatedly pushed back. In the meantime, children and adults continue to be injured and killed in backing accidents. [caption id="attachment_1500" align="alignleft" width="150"]62 Children are behind this vehicle; none of them can be seen by the driver. There are 62 children behind this vehicle. Not one of them can be seen by the driver behind the wheel.[/caption] offers some statistics about the dangers of backover accidents for children:

  • Most backover accidents involving children occur in one-year-olds (age 12-23 months), because these toddlers have developed independent mobility, have no concept of personal safety, and are very small and difficult to seel.
  • Sixty percent of fatal backover accidents involve large vehicles such as SUVs, vans, and trucks.
  • In 70 percent of fatal backover accidents involving children, the driver is a parent or other close relative.
This organization refers to the area of limited or no visibility behind the vehicle as a blind zone rather than a blind spot. It is called a blind zone because the scope of the area is much greater than a single spot, as the image at left indicates. offers the following tips to prevent backover accidents, and while these guidelines are designed for the protection of children, they can also save the lives of adults. In fact, similar guidelines are presented to commercial drivers, motor carriers, and motor fleet companies:
  • Walk around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it.
  • Know where your kids are. Make children move away from your vehicle to a place where they are in full view before moving the car and know that another adult is properly supervising children before moving your vehicle.
  • Teach children that “parked” vehicles might move. Let them know that they can see the vehicle; but the driver might not be able to see them.
  • Consider installing cross view mirrors, audible collision detectors, rear view video camera and/or some type of back up detection device.
  • Measure the size of your blind zone (area) behind the vehicle(s) you drive. A 5-foot-1-inch driver in a pickup truck can have a rear blind zone of approximately 8 feet wide by 50 feet long.
  • Be aware that steep inclines and large SUV’s, vans and trucks add to the difficulty of seeing behind a vehicle.
  • Hold children’s hand when leaving the vehicle.
  • Teach your children to never play in, around or behind a vehicle and always set the emergency brake.
  • Keep toys and other sports equipment off the driveway.
  • Homeowners should trim landscaping around the driveway to ensure they can see the sidewalk, street and pedestrians clearly when backing out of their driveway. Pedestrians also need to be able to see a vehicle pulling out of the driveway.
  • Never leave children alone in or around cars; not even for a minute.
  • Keep vehicles locked at all times; even in the garage or driveway.
  • Keys and/or remote openers should never be left within reach of children.
  • Make sure all child passengers have left the car after it is parked.
  • Be especially careful about keeping children safe in and around cars during busy times, schedule changes and periods of crisis or holidays.
If someone you love is injured or killed in a backover accident, contact an Oklahoma auto accident lawyer for help.